Lemur tree frogs are bright yellowish-green to brown. Yellow skin covers the hands, feet and flanks and the belly is white. A thick black line surrounds each eye. They can change color depending on whether they are active or resting. When they are active at night, they become more camouflaged as their upper parts turn to brown. Their eyes turn dark gray too. They have thin bodies, arms and legs, and lack webbing between their fingers and toes. They move slowly, walking hand over hand and rarely jump, unless fleeing from danger.
Females are larger than the males. Females typically measure 1.5 to 2 inches (39 to 53 millimeters) and males typically measure 1 to 1.6 inches (30 to 41 millimeters).
Lemur tree frogs are found in Costa Rica, Panama, and some areas of Colombia. They live in forests on sloping mountainsides and in the humid lowlands.
Males call to females from plants near overhanging pools or slow-moving streams, emitting a short clicking call.
In the wild, lemur frogs eat insects and other small invertebrates. At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, lemur frogs are fed crickets, fruit flies and worms.
Breeding occurs during the rainy season. Females deposit about 15 to 30 eggs on the undersurface of these leaves, where rain will wash the larvae into water. Over 90 to 150 days, the tadpole develops into an adult frog. This growth and development occurs at a more rapid rate in water of a higher temperature.
Unknown, but estimated to be between five and seven years.
Lemur tree frogs are critically endangered; their populations have declined more than 80 percent in the last 10 years. Populations are almost entirely gone from Costa Rica and some parts of western Panama.
Much of this decline is believed to be due to habitat degradation and chytridiomycosis, the disease caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists identified chytridiomycosis, which threatens amphibian species worldwide, in 1999 and are working to find treatments and a cure. Some protected areas exist in Panama, including the newly opened Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.
SCBI and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientists are working together as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project to create a safe haven for endangered amphibians. It is the largest amphibian conservation facility of its kind in the world.
- Practice ecotourism by being an advocate for the environment when you’re on vacation. During your travels, support, visit or volunteer with organizations that protect wildlife. Shop smart too! Avoid buying products made from animals, which could support poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
- Support organizations like the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute that research better ways to protect and care for this animal and other endangered species. Consider donating your time, money or goods.
- Protect local waterways by using fewer pesticides when caring for your garden or lawn. Using fertilizers sparingly, keeping storm drains free of litter and picking up after your pet can also improve watershed health.
- Less is more. Cut down on the demand for resources by consuming less. Buy only what you need, and look for pre-owned or repurposed items before purchasing something brand new.